Barry Kirk, VP of Loyalty Strategies at Maritz Motivation Solutions

Barry Kirk, VP of Loyalty Strategies at Maritz Motivation Solutions

It’s true. When you invest in customer loyalty programs you are also investing in employee engagement programs and here’s why.

When customers are loyal and act as brand ambassadors through their reviews, sales, and referrals — this becomes its own morale-building platform for your workforce. When you have satisfied consumers – you will increase employee satisfaction, driving up retention, engagement and productivity.

Barry Kirk is VP of Loyalty Strategies at Maritz Motivation Solutions, the world leader in designing and managing motivation and loyalty programs for major corporations. Below are his top tips for making your customer loyalty program a success in today’s world.

1. Make it Emotional

Create a program designed on a foundation of the latest understanding of human behavior that is coming to us from the fields of neuroscience and behavioral economic learnings, that push us beyond the overly simplistic assumption that consumers make all their decisions on a rational, financial basis. Too many programs are focused on the “do this, get that” model with consumers. More effort needs to be made to design loyalty program experiences that engage consumers emotionally and enable more opportunities for personalization and social connection.

2. Make it Social.

For today’s consumer, loyalty programs must have social and interactive elements which might include techniques like gamification, location-based services, social media and mobile channels to create a more powerful brand experience. Take the earning points concept to the next level by adding a competitive element by grouping people together. By using social media, customers can showcase their status as a great way to engage customers. Add a leader board so people can see what level they are at and people will want to do better. Add some unpredictability too. Consider if customers could redeem points for only the chance of something bigger and better. This type of loyalty program risk will wake up the brain and give you a chance to wake more customers up to your brand!

3. Make it Different.

The majority of loyalty programs today use some variation of the traditional points+rewards/earn+burn model; the result is that most programs look very similar and offer nothing to capture and earn the limited “attention currency” of consumers. Take yours to the next level with game mechanics like leader boards, group challenges and newsfeeds, or by adding an ongoing element of randomness to give members a reason to pay attention to what might happen next.

4. Make it Simple

Many programs have been designed to be purposely obtuse and complex (i.e., airline programs that only have true ROI for high-frequency business travelers), or have layers of fine print due to poor design from too many financial and legal cooks in the kitchen. To attract and retain the most participants, loyalty programs must present goals that are easy to understand and offer earning mechanics that are easy to use. That doesn’t mean the program can’t have risk and excitement, but it also must be simple to grasp and play.

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